Strumenti Antichi e Moderni in the Descriptions of Music Rooms of Agostino Amadi and Antonio Goretti (towards the Problem of the Sources’ Interpretation)


The Renaissance inherited from the Middle Ages its confusing musical terminology and the habit of tracing roots of the musical instruments back to the antiquity. In this paper we examine the testimonies concerning the A. Amadi and A. Goretti’s musical instruments’ collections, the first of which is made by F. Sansovino in his treatise Venetia città nobilissima et singolare (1581) and the other is included in the foreword to A. Piccinini’s Intavolatura di liuto, et di chitarrone, libro primo (1623). Both authors praising merits of the collections  qualify the instruments as antichi and moderni.
The adjective moderni is undoubtedly pertinent to the instruments which were in common use at the time. The interpretation of antico, on the other hand, poses a problem since it can be potentially applied both to the near past and to the remote anti­qu­ity. We analyze the descriptions of Sansovino and Piccinini in the context of wide historical and cultural background and make an attempt to find out whether they talk about truly antique instruments or just about the ones which had come out of use by the time of writing and belong to the period from the second half of the 15th until the beginning of the 16th century. This analysis leads us to the conclusion that a widely accepted interpretation, introduced in the works of J. von Schlosser and E. Winternitz, according to which the Amadi’s collection contained musical instruments imitating the antique ones, needs to be revised.